Aid workers, doctors, good Samaritans lend helping hand to Irma-ravaged Keys

KEY WEST, FLA. (WSVN) - Doctors and aid workers are setting up tents to provide relief to residents of the Florida Keys, one week after Hurricane Irma battered the area, but other good Samaritans are also lending a helping hand.

About 4,000 people a day receive food, water and ice at the main distribution site in Key West.

“We have a very amazing, amazing community here. We’re very blessed,” said one woman.

Lines of cars snaked out of a shopping center parking lot on to U.S. 1. About 1,700 vehicles come through daily.

People are being helped by well-known organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

“A barbecue today was flown in by FedEx from Fort Myers, from Operation Barbecue Relief,” said a Salvation Army volunteer. “It’s fresh. It flies into Marathon, we pick it up, and we truck it down here and serve it.”

The Army National Guard is also present in the Keys. “That’s why I joined the National Guard, to give back and to help out my community at their time of need, and to help out the state of Florida,” said Sgt. Bryan Muhlbach.

But there are also people like Anthony Waters, an out-of-state trucker who said he’s in the Keys for reasons more important than his job. “[I came from] Atlanta, Georgia … We’re doing the best we can, to help everybody in their time of need,” he said.

Government help is available elsewhere as well. A tent structure in Key West is the base operation for a disaster medical assistance team, complete with nurses, doctors and enough beds on site to offer up to 100 people.

“If you look at the variety of beds, it could be a low acuity bed where someone may just rest or needs IV fluids or just some tender loving care,” said Knox T. Walk, the medical team’s commander.

A federal group of medical professionals sees about 30 patients a day. They have taken over a parking lot at Florida Keys Community College to do so.

There is another DMAT camp in Marathon.

Though the Florida City checkpoint was lifted on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m., various curfews remain in effect across the Keys.

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